tv Your Business MSNBC October 27, 2013 7:30am-8:00am EDT
hi, there. welcome to your business, the show that champions entrepreneurship, giving you tips and advice to help your small business. year ago super storm sandy decimated the coast causing billions in damage to countless homes and thousands of small businesses. one of the small businesses was surf side bagels in rockaway beach in new york owned by scott edwards and tim keenan. is suffered flooding and it pretty much destroyed their store. we brought in our makeover team to help them get become on their feet, turning this terrible time into a time to rebuild their business into something better
than it was before the storm. we helped them with the new men row designs and they took the suggestion and offered a customer loyalty program and hooked up with a fooder delivery service. we are happy to say all of this resulted in a 15% increase in revenue since the summer with a much more consistent flow of customers and they are not alone. with the great strides, other businesses destroyed by the storm have reopened as well. on this one-year mark, we wish all of the small business victims of sandy good look and best wishes. how do you protect your small business and customers when your business plan includes sledge hammers and broken glass? it's tough for those making anger her business.
>> when you go in and that door closes and you hit your first item, something snaps. i have seen it in every customer. something snaps. >> it's like a scene from the movie office space. a place where your fant'ses can come true. welcome to the anger room. >> what are do people say when you want to start a business where people come in and destroy things. >> that i was crazy. they said i was crazy. it was a wild idea and they can't believe i came up with such a crazy idea. >> donna alexander is the founder d ceo. she thought people needed a place to blow off steam. for $25 a pop, she gives them that freedom. to destroy anything they want. with their weapon of choice.
i picked the crowbar. you can imagine, running a business where people are running around hitting things with sledge hammers has the potential to get a little scary. a lot scary. before welcoming any customers, donna had to prepare for every possible scenario. >> this releases us from liability if you injury yourself or death occurs or anything that happens, we are not responsibility. it's an enter at our own risk facility. it protects us and you as the consumer. >> she videotapes every session just in case. >> the camera does not lie. we let them know we are videotaping now for our liability reasons, but they can purchase their own videos if they want. >> does anyone ever get hurt? >> not yet. not so far.
hopefully they won't. >> there is flying glass. it seems ripe for getting hurt. >> you would think that, but with the safety gear, it kind of protects them and shields them from all of that. if they do get hurt it's probably an action that they did so they may whack themselves by mistake or something like that. >> that are means having to say no sometimes. >> i have customers to ask to bring in chain saws and pick axes and machetes, pocket knives and sizors. it's like a big no. no way in the world. we have a request for guns all the time. we are in texas so that's not anything unusual, but we get that a lot. >> the anger room is loektd cat dallas. it took three years to find
someone who rented to her. >> i had hundreds of nos with landlords and things like that because they believe we might tear up the facilities which is understandable. some people don't like the concept because we would track crazy people and they don't want crazy people in their building. >> they run the gambit to administrative assist acts to people angry with their bosses to people who want exercise. >> you angry or here for fun. >> i can probably think of things that make me mad. >> the stuff to destroy comes from the street that makes it pretty darn cost-effective. >> people have trash every day, all day. we use all of that. we go around on pick up days and
pick up large items that people don't want or can't be use and we use those to operate. >> the anger room has three rooms that can be set up like anything you want. donna sees this as just the start. >> if all goes well, in five years, we will see a huge facility. smoke and lights and loud announcements and people announcing when you come in the room. video displays showing off what you have done to the room. weapons from the ground. extensive choices and multiple type of room settings. ideally what i would like to do is provide room settings of every type. you can do retail stores and bars and we can do airplanes with the seats and things like that. >> they don't necessarily have
to be swinging crowbars. you need to protect yourself. we have the perfect panel to discuss this. john is the host and executive producer of bar rescue. he is also the president of the night and bar media group. the new book is called raise the bar, an action-based method for maximum customer reaction. andrew romans on the cofounder of georgetown angels, a group that funds start up and he is author of the new book, the bible to venture capital. inside secrets from the leaders in the start up game. jennifer hill is a venture attorney at gunderson detmer and entrepreneur yourself. you counsel a lost entrepreneurs. you need to write a book. ar are apparently i do. >> i am starting with you, john. we talk about liability. you have to think of bars. >> you have to. we are in a risk management business. this redefines risk.
the very nature of this business, i would wonder where you can define neglect where people could get hurt. i know this as a bar owner. it's slippery for a hard floor, unlit step or somebody with a big device in their hand all spell lawsuits and danger. when i look at a business, i see a conscientious entrepreneur with who started a business, but the nature of the business is worrisome. i worry how you survive without a lawsuit somewhere. >> you are an attorney and lawsuits work everywhere. a shadowy step and slippery floor. can you protect yourself against everything? are. >> nothing is foolproof and he has a detailed limitation and seems to know her customers very, very well. she says no a lot. she is in the letting every
person in her doors and she is thoughtful about her environment. she can create a safe experience and limit her own liability. >> how much are people thinking -- it's obvious she needs to think about liability. when you start a technology company, there all kinds of issues. how do you think through them before they happen? >>. >> there is a lot of start up risk with any new ku678, but for this one, there is two things. you have an iron clad prenup, you can get a waiver that said i will not see you. the other is insurance. >> you have to strike the balance. is the risk worth it? >> for hershey came up with a way for it to be profitable. how often do you come across people who didn't think through everything and they find themselves in a tough situation? >> it can happen often. it's a concept or model.
teen clubs can create an awful liability. by the very nature of the design of that business, no different than this one. you have to really make sure everything is tightened down with every conceivable protection by the nature of the business. >> it comes down to you need to consult with your lawyer. a long conversation. >> she is our business and it will change directions. maybe she is in texas and people want to bring chain saws, but let them shoot guns. run with the business. >> i'm going to end this discussion by letting you respond to let them shoot guns. >> texas is a unique place and i'm sure they are not only keeping perfectly in line, but consulting a lawyer for what she can and can't do. >> this is a fun piece to do and talk about also.
thank you. >> legal advice can be costly and sometimes involves information you can find on your own with a little searching. to help you get the basic legal information you need, check out the ap of the week. in teleconnect mobile, a free ap helps businesses kind key legal information by state. the ap especially focused on data concerning financial decisions and updates on tax laws and rate charts for loans and information on a variety of state requirements. it may be hard to believe, but thanksgiving is just around the corner and soon after the beginning of the holiday shopping season frenzy, that means that now is the time for small business owners to start getting ready for november 30th, small business saturday. the push to get customers to shop local kicks off this week and you need to be proactive to get them to think small. november 30th is the fourth
annual small business saturday. a day people around the country get together to support the small businesses that create jobs and keep our neighborhoods vital. small business owners know how important the holiday shopping season is which is why small business saturday comes between black friday and cyber monday. it's a campaign to get customers to skip the big box stores and shop locally. >> with all the publicity, people tend to go to the mall and it's great to redirect people back to towne centre. it's not only traffic on that day, but it reminds them to shop for the holiday season. we are excited about small business saturday. it's a godsend for us and increased our sales and traffic. >> in 2012, consumers spent $5 billion shopping local on small business saturday. president obama and government officials in all 50 states
supported small business saturday, including members of the u.s. senate. what can you do to take advantage of small business saturday? get customers to support you. go to shopsmall.com you will find marking tools to raise awareness, promote your business and attract new customers. get personalized signage and online banners to promote on your blog or website to make small business saturday a mel rabl event. you will find copy templates to rally to potential customers and helpful language that you can use on social media. >> instagram has been great for us. i'm able to post pictures and people connect more if they see a picture of product and a caption saying you can get this for 20% off on small business saturday. >> and you your small business community can create promotions
around the day and contact local media to get the word out. >> small business saturday last year was good for us. this year we will be offering free refreshments and gifts with purchase and flowers for the ladies who come in to shop. >> with the economy the way it is, if you can help small business stay alive, it helps us all in the long run. >> that first e-mail that you send to customers can be crucial to establishing an ongoing relationship with them. here now are five tips to make sure your welcome e-mail delivers from small business computing. don't leave them guessing. the from line is one of the first thing they see. make sure there is no question about who the e-mail is from. two, where did we meet again? new subscribers may not remember
signing up. remind them in your welcome e-mail. maintain your branding. the colors , images and fond should match. it's annual to assume they signed up for the newsletter because they are interested in your company. give them ways to know what you do. link the blog or faq page. five, reward them. provide a gift of tangible value for your subscribers. it can be an ebook or special discount. they feel subscribing and staying subscribed is worth it. >> still to come, we answer a couple of your small business questions. we have one about dealing with so-called patent trolls. you will find plenty in the popular haunted houses and they will be breathing easier thanks to brilliant entrepreneurs who invented a formula for nontoxic
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small businesses. that was the case for nashville entrepreneurs who while concocting a nontoxic fog for haunted houses accidentally discovered additional revenue streams. >> halloween is definitely an all hands on deck thing. we have extra staff because for this time of year, halloween is a major part of our business. i like fog. it's fun to get to blow smoke for a living. >> they do blow smoke for a living. they manufacture and sell their own formula for hypoallergenic fluid. it is used to supply the smoke machines. that filled the haunted houses and that creep you out at halloween. >> when we started the business, it was more of a necessity.
>> they work at a family-run laser tag center that used fog and it was something that triggered chris's asthma, smelled terrible and irritated customers's eyes. >> i had respiratory issues with the fluid we were using. we wanted to make a version that was for me brothable. >> with nothing on the market, they worked with a chemist to form ut their artificial fog making fluid. they never considered marking it until another laser tag owner took notice. >> he said who does your fog? this stuff is great and it's not burning my eyes. i said we make temperature he said will you sell me ten gallons? >> at first it seemed to have limited potential for profits. i said if we sell 55 gallons, it would be a miracle all of a
sudden we have ten times more calls in october than any other time of the year. why is that? >> that was a wake up call they answered by asking their customers a simple question. >> what do you use it for? we are a haunted house. every haunted house uses fog. it was just one of those wow, we didn't know that. >> the more they listened to the operators, the more new products they discovered they could manufacture. >> they're begin to tell us we want a ground fog that lingers longer than most do. we are using it outside in grave yards. okay. we went and designed an outdoor type. >> you will be in a trade show and my cousin is fireman and uses tons of it. note to self. firemen use this. >> they went to all kinds of shows from shows for firemen to sewer inspectors to sky writers all of which became markets for
their fog. that's when the frog founders found that rock 'n' roll performers were particularly interested in the allergy-free fog formula. craig is a lead singer for the hearts of saints is especially sensitive to the smells and irritants by typical fog making machines. >> they have a stench. as a vocalist i don't like things to stick and clog my vocal cords. >> they came a long way from the early days and the prospects seem great. >> we grow by a couple hundred percent each year or more. >> it's time to answer your business questions. andrew and jen are back with us. it's about whether or not to apply for a patent. >> there is one vexing issue. d like your mobile app and is if
even worth patenting it? is it worth the time and money to patent a mobile app? >> okay, i'm starting with the investor and ending with the lawyer on this. is it worth getting a patent? >> well, you know, i would say for mobile app, the answer is no. you should put all of your money, all of your energy into growing the business, getting users, getting traction, you know. lawyers are like gravity, water under gravity, they'll tell you maybe you should, they're trained to do it, they know how to do it, they're going to, you know, have you do that. maybe they'll bill you later. maybe they'll bill you now. >> boy, by the time you get your patent, it may be a failure oregor a success. it takes a lot of time and money. >> minimal viable product, just get going. i think if you're in biotech or something and you really -- it is the molecules, you want to patent that. intellectual property protection for sure, but for a mobile app, it is a clear answer. don't waste any money trying to
patent. >> what do you think? >> i think most decent patent lawyers will state same thing it probably not worth patenting. the bar is still high and the laws are changing in this regard. patent may need to be -- the item needs to be new or novel, nonobvious and has to be something that has a utility and the thing about mobile apps is the technology is changing so quickly, and, you know, by the time your patent actually gets filed and gets to the process, it may not even be a product on the market anymore. there are plenty of other intellectual property measures you can use to protect it. and, you know, certainly if you're curious, talk to a pat lawyer, it is a cost benefit for that type of technology. >> there is stuff you want to do like, i think i remember being an entrepreneur my cem before becoming an investor, and i think it was pillsbury was my lawyer and they said go to the u.s. patent, you know, website, and i, you know, registered the name of the business and things like that. you probably want to, like,
register your name, protect that, because that's the real -- if you're a mobile app, it costs 5k to get it out. so it is your name that is probably the intellectual property. not the technology. >> okay. let's move on to the next question, about protecting yourself and your company. >> one of my biggest fears has always been having a larger company or a patent troll bully us around with legal threats, which we just don't have the time and money for. so what i would like to know is what is the best way to protect yourself from legal threats of bigger companies or patent trolls. >> that's interesting. i don't have the time or money, even if someone goes after them and they're not violating a patent or not doing anything wrong, they still may not be able to fight it. >> you don't necessarily need to fight it. that's where a little bit of prevention early on can actually save you a lot of time and money, if you're a company and get a nasty gram from a troll. the first thing you should do is find a patent lawyer that is really experienced in this particular area. and even better in that particular industry of
technology because frankly some money on a very sternly worded letter to push back can make things go away. the thing about patent trolls as they work in numbers, they're looking to send these notices out to as many companies as possible and they hope you either rollover or saddle. so you don't need to actually go through protracted litigation to get them off your back. there is interim steps you can take. >> have you seen this happen a lot? >> i haven't. i was wondering if i'm naive on this, but, you know, i would say don't worry about this, don't put your energy into this negative thinking of, like, a patent troll. i think if a big corporate is, you know, looking at what you're doing, that's good news. maybe sell your company to that big company. this is -- m&a is where i get excited, i'll get money out of this thing. same for the entrepreneurs. i think that patent trolls wouldn't worry about it. i'd be more excited about there is a big company that is looking at what you're doing. you can sell to. >> okay. finally, one last question, from a entrepreneur who wants to know what to do about insurance.
>> surprisingly we just learned that we have outgrown our current insurance policy due to our increased volume. which is a good thing, but now we have to source out new insurance. what are three good things to ask when moving to a higher level of insurance company. >> i like this question. i like when people ask what can i ask? that's what you need to know. often times you go into a service provider and you don't even know when what you're talking about. any sessions, either of you? >> i say everything about your business is the network of people around your business. so, like, the investors, your co-founders, your advisers, your insurance company, the network around your business is your business. and so, like, for me, i prefer to do business with people i know and i like and i trust rather than just do a price auction. >> how do you know what to ask? you have a big network. for someone who doesn't have the same network you do and you're calling people up, how do you
know what to ask? >> i would ask three important things. the coverage. make sure with the new company, the coverage for the insurance you need is the same or better than what you had before. just because the policy has the same title, for example, business interruption insurance doesn't mean that the terms that you have now are going to be the same ones. you want to make sure your coverage is equal or better. the second thing is the financial rating of the insurance company. a lot of them went belly up during the recession, and don't necessarily have the greatest reputation. so a company that has an am best rating of b plus or higher is generally a good quality company. the third thing i would ask is about their claims experience because they may be trying to sell you on the coverage, but do they actually have experience for the parade of horribles that might happen. so, for example, if you're a technology company, that deals with financial or health care data and get sued for a privacy breach, make sure your insurance carrier actually understands how to handle that. >> thank you so much for all of your advice. very helpful today. thanks a lot. we are always checking out twitter to gain a little wisdom
from our fellow entrepreneurs and investors. here is some of what we found this week. aaron levy, ceo of box.com tweets, startups win by focusing on early adopters who represent the masses, big companies lose by focusing on later adopters that don't. wine entrepreneur gary vainer had good advice. i never think the work is beneath me. a huge issue for many winning players. and mike pitt, founder of marketing fundamentals with this truism, #entrepreneurs, failure is not as scary as mediocrity. thanks so much for joining us today. to learn more about today's s w show, all you have to do is click on our website, it is openforum.com/yourbusiness. you can also follow us on twitter. it's @msnbcyourbiz.
next week, her functional product line was booming. and so she needed to find the right people to go out and sell it. >> i realized i couldn't be in all of these places. and so much of the work i do is training stores how to sell the product, so finding sales people was crucial to the growth of my business. >> what this entrepreneur learned about hiring successful sales reps will benefit any small business. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. building animatronics is all about getting things to work together. the timing, the actions, the reactions. everything has to synch up. my expenses are no different. receiptmatch on the business gold rewards card synchronizes your business expenses. just shoot your business card receipts